Don Ellers aka "LANDCRAWLER" shares some land improvement tips picked up over the years as a landowner and land broker...
In order to maximize the property value and enjoyment of your land, consider these land improvements. At a minimum, firebreaks, food plots, scrub & brush clearing, and connecting internal trails and roads greatly enhance property value and personal enjoyment of your land. Here are some additional land improvement ideas. Consider a phased approach.
Here's an excellent resource document - Alabama's Best Management Practices for Forestry
Land Improvements - A Phased Approach
Start with a Master Plan
landcrawler has extensive aerial and topographic mapping capability and can create a "master plan" for your land property - prioritize, budget, schedule and visualize the improvements to be achieved. Every project needs a master plan.
Consider a fairly recent survey of your land as an asset. If you are putting your land on the market, a survey will generally be necessary to confirm acreage and identify any easements, border disputes, etc.
Buyers like seeing a recent survey so they know exactly what they are getting.
Corners and Boundary Lines Clearly Marked
Clearly marked corners and land lines are a plus when showing property and essential to move forward with Phase III and IV enhancements described below.
Appropriate prescriptive burning of your property is a proven property management technique.
Given the existence of drought, lightning strikes, accidents, and mischievous behavior, firebreaks can save timber and other assets.
Plant food plot seed to control erosion and attract wildlife.
Additional benefit - ability to get around the property to show borders if selling and/or enjoying the land.
Food Plots / Green Fields / Wildlife Openings / Fruit and Vegetable Gardens
Plant firebreaks and create other green strips/plots.
Attract wildlife (get trail camera video and pictures.) Consider year-round planting. Creates open areas - nice visual appeal.
Plant fruits and vegetables for the family or commercial farming!
Scrub and Brush Clearing. Maintain Road Edges, Neglected Open Areas and Neglected Old Pasture Areas
Benefit - ability to view property. Well kept, beautiful green fields have visual appeal year-round.
Bush hogging road edges, open fields, and neglected pasture land makes a huge difference in terms of visual appeal.
If open fields are neglected, heavy scrub will take over quickly!
Heavy scrub and brush clearing / mulching eliminates competition for desirable species and creates visual appeal. Consider using a root rake implement to remove dense shrub by the roots.
Construct Internally Connecting Trails and Roads. Maintain Existing Internal Roads - Clear Brush and Erosion Control.
Ability to tour and enjoy property. Hike / mountain bike / dirt bike / 4 wheel. Wildlife will use these cleared roads and trails.
Smoothing out rutted internal roads, installing culverts, water-bars and turnouts where needed will allow improved travel and provide erosion control.
Security and visual appeal. Consider setting the gate back far enough to allow the ability to pull in the driveway with a truck / trailer and still be off the public road.
Fun. Enhance accuracy and confidence with firearms and/or other hunting equipment.
Clear shooting lanes from your hunting stands.
Level, Clear Out Camp / RV Site / Fire Ring
Fun, fire safety. Showcase possible building sites.
Flag / Prep the Property
It's critical that the planned improvements (new roads, firebreaks, food plots/green fields, etc.) to the land are flagged/marked and clearly identified/defined before the BIG IRON arrives!
This will maximize the productivity and cost-effectiveness of the heavy equipment when it arrives on site.
Get creative. Think about making your land productive with agriculture, aquiculture, horticulture, ranching, etc. This could be one of your best retirement plans! I have clients thinning timber today to support college educations, retirement funding, etc.
Existing Timber Management - Thinning, Prescriptive Burns
Healthy forest. Income. Many of these activities would require the services of a registered forester and/or prescriptive burn manager.
A prescriptive burn offers many benefits - killing off undergrowth and small regenerated trees, promotes natural grass growth... Native Americans used fire regularly to improve their hunting grounds.
New Timber Stand Planting. Horticulture
Consider creative new "stands" such as hardwoods, long-leaf pine, vineyards, and fruit orchards. Replant clear cut. Create a diverse farm plan.
Support horses and/or a cattle operation.
Ponds / Lakes
A lake on 40 acres increases the value of every acre! Stock fish. Possible commercial applications (catfish operation). Appropriate permits required.
1. Bury some white oak acorns on your land when they drop, in a few years, you'll have some beautiful white oak trees - preferred mast crop for deer.
2. Instead of nails, use deck or wood screws if you are attaching signs to trees. I would not go deep with the screws or the nails. In either case, go vertical - 1 at the top, 1 at the bottom in the middle of the sign. If you drive a nail or screw tight to the bark, before you know it the tree will grow and bury the screw or nail. If you leave room, you can pull the nail or back out the screws...
Here's a brief video showing a prescriptive burn and land clearing (pulling up all types of undergrowth by the roots)...
LANDOWNERS - land clean up and improvements work! One would not dream of putting a house on the market with unsightly "street appeal," or desperately needing paint and carpet. The same is true with land.
I have personally experienced completing a land improvement project on a Monday, and the property sold itself 2 days later on Wednesday. On another property, I was with the dozer man managing a clean up project at 9:00am, by 3:00pm that day I had a contract with the first prospect that toured the property! Yes, these are extraordinary (but true) experiences - point being - land clean up, enhancement and improvement works!
LANDCRAWLER can help you realize your land enhancement goals. I have been involved with the improvement and enhancement of hundreds of acres of land. As with any project, a master plan is essential to success. Email DonEllers@landcrawler.com or give Don a call / text on 770-424-5800 to discuss.